February 1, 2016

I peruse the e-newsletter from PIJAC daily. Lately, it seems that each one has a story about a community banning or restricting live animal sales. Sometimes these bans only affect certain types of animals–usually reptiles–and sometimes they are total bans.

The trend I have noticed lately is stores being banned from selling dogs and cats that do not come from rescues and shelters. PIJAC recently responded to a proposed ban on retail sales of kittens, puppies and pot-bellied pigs in Las Vegas. You can find the PIJAC response on our website.

I can see why these types of laws have some popular support. We all want more animals to leave the shelters and move into loving homes. We all want inhumane breeders to go out of business. These laws seem to make that happen.

But do they really? I have yet to see research showing that these laws result in more dog and cat adoptions or stop bad breeders. Do they just cause people who want a certain breed to go directly to a breeder? Or to travel to a pet store in the next county?

Laws like these also restrict consumer choice. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting a specific breed of cat or dog or other animal. As long as the animals being sold come from ethical breeders and are cared for properly in the store, pet-loving consumers should be able to buy them. My partner and I adopted our cats from a local shelter and would do so again. But if we wanted to buy a sphynx or a Burmese, we should be able to do so.

So what can you, as a retailer, do about bans and restrictions on live animal sales? For one, you can support PIJAC, but there are also things you can do locally. Join your local Chamber of Commerce so they can better represent your interests. Attend municipal council meetings when any pet legislation is being discussed—your city likely has a meeting schedule online. As a local business owner, it should not be hard to get a meeting with a local councilperson to talk about these and other issues you face—knowing you might make it harder for them to vote against your interests.

Lastly, make sure that your store cannot be used as an example of why live animal sales should be banned. Practice exemplary care and hygiene with the animals you sell. Make sure that social animals are well socialized. Do not sell unhealthy animals. Do your utmost to prevent escapes of non-native animals that could pose a threat to local wildlife. Besides, these are things you should be doing even without the threat of restrictive legislation.

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